Dash lines, dot-dash lines, and shadow lines are frequently used for illustrating designs and defining bounds in mechanical drawing. Accordingly, many applicants use such lines to present a product for which he/she seek protection in an industrial design patent application.
Dash lines are discontinuous lines drawn with dots or short lines. According to National Standard GB/T 4457.4-2002 Mechanical Drawings - General Principles of Presentation - l two types of dash lines, namely fine dash lines and thick dash lines, are mainly used in technical drawings. Fine dash lines are used to represent edge lines and contour lines which are invisible or hidden. Thick dash lines are used to indicate which part allows surface treatment.
Dot-dash lines are frequently used in engineering drawings. Such lines consist of dots and short lines in succession, and are divided into fine dot-dash line, thick dot-dash line and fine double dots-dash line according to the National Standard. Fine dot-dash lines are mainly used to draw axis, symmetrical centerline, reference circle (lines), center lines of the pore distribution and cutting lines; thick dot-dash lines are usually used to define a range; fine double dots-dash lines are mainly used as the contour lines to indicate adjacent auxiliary parts, moving part’s extreme position, pre-formation shape, pre-cutting structure, traces, the manufactured product in blank drawing, specific areas, projection tolerance zone, processing structure, interrupt line and etc.
Shadow lines are not described in the National Standard. In general drawings, shadow lines are mainly used to indicate the shadow formed when light is projected onto solid object and present the three dimensional status of the solid object.
Pursuant to related provisions of the Patent Law of China, figures of a design patent application shall be drawn in conformity with the national standards regarding technical drawings and mechanical drawings. The shape of a design shall be drawn in well-proportioned solid lines. Shadow line, indicatory line, dash line, center line, dimension line, or dot-dash line is not allowed to be used. If any aforesaid lines are used in the figures of a design patent application, the Examiner will issue the Notification to Make Rectification and point out that “the figures cannot clearly show the industrial design of the product claimed in the design patent application, which is not in conformity with the provisions of Article 27.2 of the Patent Law” and request the applicant to either delete such lines or change them to solid lines. In practice, in order to strive for the greatest possible scope of protection, it is recommended that the applicant file the same set of views of a design described in dot lines twice (one set as a similar design of the other) in one design patent application so as to reserve the opportunity of implementing both ways of amendment to obtain two similar industrial designs later. In the case the applicant misses such a filing strategy, he/she can amend the dot lines through one of the above ways and try to amend through the other way by filing a divisional application to seek for a more comprehensive protection.
So, what requirements applied on filing of a divisional design application?
1) For those which contain 2 or more designs in the original application, a divisional application should include one or few of the designs from the original application, the application scope indicated in the divisional application is not allowed to be extended.
2) For those which indicate overall design of a product in the original application, protection of partial designs is not allowed to be claimed in the divisional applications. For instance, where a design patent application is to protect an overall design of a motorbike, divisional applications are not allow to be made for the parts of the motorbike.
Do the above requirements mean that the applicant could only submit designs which are removed from the original application for a divisional application? The answer is “no”.
Taking a case as an example:
This design patent application is about a design of the cover of a device. Two similar designs are filed in the application. The views of design 1 contain dash lines, shadow lines and dot-dash lines which are not allowed, and the views of design 2 contain shadow lines and dot-dash lines. During examination, a Notification to Make Rectification was issued to address the defects caused by the non-allowed indicating lines. Usually, applicants would choose to delete them or change them into solid lines to overcome the problem. However in this case, the defects concern an intermediate rounding part which turns out to four interpretations under different combinations of deletion and amendments of lines. Each interpretation has its focus. To protect all four of them would be more beneficial to the applicant. According to our experience, since the application was initially filed with only two designs, the Examiner would not allow us to add designs when making rectification. Instead we filed two of the amendments to make response and the other two as divisional application.
Now both the parent application and the divisional application are granted.
When understanding the Guidelines for Paten Examination, especially the requirements “industrial designs that can be filed in a divisional application shall be one or several designs contained in the parent application”, we think it should not be interpreted literarily to only design(s) removed from the parent application. The applicant may seek protection for similar designs by filing a divisional application as long as they are within the original scope and obtained from allowed amendments. As shown in the above case, designs and figures filed in the divisional application are not those removed from the parent application, but similar designs obtained based on well-planned amendments within the originally disclosed scope.